AdaCore Blog

Building a Bright Future: Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day

by Charis Fisher , Cléa Mendelewski

International Women in Engineering Day celebrates women who enrich people’s everyday lives through engineering and are “helping to build towards a brighter future”, according to their mission statement. It’s the perfect opportunity to celebrate the outstanding achievements of women engineers throughout the world.

We’re very proud of our own women in engineering at AdaCore and their achievements in the field of critical software. Today we’re showcasing Ashley Gay’s career and how her skills and accomplishments have evolved from an early interest in video games to cross operating systems expertise within the domain of high-integrity software.

What first made you interested in software engineering?

When I was younger, I really wanted to develop video games. In high school, where I had an option course that taught programming, I had to write a bit of python code and I got something working at the end, which was really fun!

Following that, I joined EPITA the year after I got my Baccalauréat. There, I became really interested in low-level embedded programming, and that's what I decided to major in and study for my 4th and 5th year.

What led you to join AdaCore?

I first heard about AdaCore during my studies. One of my (now) colleagues, Raphaël Amiard, was teaching the Ada programming language course I was taking. Towards the end of my time at EPITA, I had to do a 6-month internship, so I asked Raphaël for a recommendation about internships at AdaCore - I applied and was selected.

During my internship, I worked in the IDE team working on our integrated development environment. My internship mentor and IDE team lead, Anthony Leonardo Gracio, supported my application for a full-time position at AdaCore. As a result, I now work in the Cross Engineering team where I mainly work on supporting the operating systems that our customers use for their products, which tend not to be standard systems like Linux or Windows.

How has your career progressed at AdaCore?

In the early days, I was mostly working on programming projects, and I was given several big projects right when I started. One of these projects involved working on a new port alongside Olivier Hainque from the GCC team, which I found really interesting. From there, I started to be given more autonomy, and I became involved in more project management roles.

Now, I do a mix of technical work and project management. Becoming more involved in project management work has been a particularly interesting journey for me because it has expanded my organization skills. You have to be organized when working autonomously, which was something I struggled with when I was younger. The fact that I was being given autonomy at work and encouraged to pursue more project management work really helped me to improve in this area.

Can you tell us more about your current role and what you’re working on?

My main responsibility in the Cross Engineering team is working on version upgrades. This involves looking at the latest version of operating systems used by our customers and checking that it works with our current technology. We then determine what we need to change to support it, bugs we may have to fix, and any changes we might need to make to our current infrastructure.

Another of my duties is looking after our infrastructure needs. In the Paris office, we have a machine room with servers and development boards where we run our cross operation systems. My role expanded to include this responsibility after I let my manager know I was interested in the work we were doing to maintain the boards and configure them. Maintaining our infrastructure involves a lot of time and effort but personally, I really enjoy it and I’m glad I was given this opportunity. It’s different from what I do in my main role, and I’m able to collaborate with people in our IT team.

What’s unique about AdaCore is that our customers have direct access to our team of engineers through our Support portal. This means that I’m also able to experience working on customer support tickets, including bug fixes or enhancement requests. This interaction with customers pushes you to think about how they will use your product and how you can match their needs.

How have you been supported to succeed here?

The support I’ve received at AdaCore has been amazing. Whenever I’ve asked to explore something new, I have always been encouraged and supported. There are no closed doors for me in terms of roles and areas that I want to work on.

AdaCore has a positive approach to learning new skills. I have received training to improve my organizational skills, and as a result, I’m very comfortable with my abilities in this area now.

How would you describe your experience as a woman engineer at AdaCore?

In my case, I'm a trans woman and I've been transitioning at AdaCore for about two years now. Since I came out at my job, everyone has been very welcoming. I've had a lot of support and having a safe place where I could transition was extremely positive for me. It has allowed me to better grow as a person and as an AdaCore employee. I feel more confident and assertive right now than I’ve ever felt before.

The fact that I could have a one-on-one talk whenever I wanted with the HR team was really helpful for me. Transitioning can sometimes feel a bit lonely, so having this level of support in the place where I spend 8 hours a day is really appreciated. They accompanied me through it, and they didn’t try to put more barriers in place for me, for instance I was able to change my name at AdaCore without having gone through the legal change at the time.

I feel like there’s a certain dynamic when you transition at a workplace - obviously, it’s a period of change, but at the same time things haven’t really changed for me in terms of my work and how I’m treated, which is really positive.

Beyond your main role in Engineering, are you involved in any other activities at AdaCore?

Another key part of my responsibilities is my work within the Inclusion and Diversity team. The I&D group was created two years ago and it’s made up of people from all kinds of different teams within the company. We have people from Engineering, Legal, Sales and Marketing.

One of our main projects is running an annual survey to ensure people are heard. After completing the survey, we have action planning to consider people’s feedback and ideas. In collaboration with the HR team, we organize follow-up meetings with each department director to ensure that the results are discussed with every team and that action is taken collectively. This action planning allows us to improve so that we improve things year after year.

This year, we’ve worked on setting up the survey, optimizing the questions, and onboarding a new online tool for the survey. It’s been a lot of work but really fulfilling to see the results, and brilliant to work with people from different departments and countries - everyone has a different outlook, which brings about more interesting ideas.

We’ve also been reviewing our internal policies to make things even more inclusive. Knowing that we can tangibly improve the lives of our coworkers and be a force of change is extremely motivating and is not something you’re usually able to do when you work in engineering.

What do you value most about working at AdaCore?

I really value the opportunity to pursue my interests without limits at Adacore. Working in different areas has allowed me to develop a wider skill set and meet new people.

I love my colleagues and the people I work with on a daily basis. I have a great relationship with my manager, which really helps. The team here is really collaborative, open and easy to work with.

What would you say to someone interested in joining AdaCore?

If you like working on a variety of projects, from technical work to collaborating with different people, or if you’re interested in exploring tools and technologies, AdaCore is for you. If you want that kind of flexibility and openness, you should consider joining us!

Posted in #Engineering Careers   

About Charis Fisher

Charis Fisher

Charis Fisher is Marketing Engagement Executive at AdaCore. With a Master's in Translation and Editing, Charis has now been specialising in marketing for software, AI and technology businesses for over 7 years.

About Cléa Mendelewski

Cléa Mendelewski

Cléa Mendelewski holds a Master Degree in HR and Strategic & Change Management. She joined AdaCore as an HR Generalist in September 2021 following 7+ years' experience in HR and Talent Acquisition in the construction industry. She is now HR Manager at AdaCore.